The morning started out great! Woke up and watched a wild turkey crossing the hillside out my bedroom window. Got up and got ready. Strolled down the path the let the chickens out, taking pictures of new blooms (see below) and as I approached the coop I saw movement outside. And then I realized that the chicks I had moved to the coop this weekend had escaped and were running about!
I figured they would get out of the brooder box at some point, but the coop has a 8 inch step up to get out AND the door was closed!!!! Still no idea how they got out of the coop, but I didn’t have time to figure it out as I began chasing them around the coop. So the good news is that most of the chicks are cornish-cross meat birds and as expected when I dropped a little feed on the ground they came running to me. Snatched a couple up and returned them to the brooder box. Then it got interesting, the other chicks are barred rock roosters – to replace Kazooster RIP. These guys were not fooled so easily and I spent the next 10 minutes chasing them through the woods hoping they would tire out before I did! Finally cornered and captured them. With all of them back in the brooder box, I did some maintenance on the chicken wire cover that allowed the escape. Fingers crossed it will hold for two more weeks until I can release them on purpose.
Check out our Instagram account for pictures of the blooms I was enjoying before the chicken chase started!
A quick post that I will update later with pictures of the new enclosure.
It appears our original plan to free range the chickens will have to be rethought. While the birds seem to love the freedom, it has come at a cost in both lives and landscaping.
First of all in lives. I am sad to report that in a two week period we lost two guinea fowl and four chickens, before a single egg was laid. I put up a trail camera and although I didn’t catch it in the act, there is strong evidence of a coyote in the area. One evening while watching TV, my son saw something moving through the backyard. We had discovered piles of feathers in this area indicating it was where bad things were happening. So he took at it! He didn’t get a good look at it and thought it might be a fox, but I think it was the coyote. My son was able to follow it (at a full run) several acres over on to a neighbors property before he lost it in the thick woods. It has been over a week and no new loses, but cant count it.
Second in landscaping. While I fully understand there would be some damage to the minimal landscaping we have, but with 22 acres I guess I thought it would be “minimal”. At first it was fine, a peck here and plant there. Then the rain started and it rained almost every day for a couple of weeks. Apparently this drove the birds up to the house and into the landscaping where they systematically ate most all of it right down to the ground and then scratched up the mulch to make sure they didn’t miss anything. We were not amused and determined that they would need a proper enclosure for “their own safety”! We still plan to free range them on weekends and times that we can be outside and watch them, but otherwise they will be enclosed.
Currently it is a 6 foot wire fence wrapped around the trees that naturally surround the coop, so folks with OCD who prefer a square or rectangular chicken run would have a fit. We like to call it all-natural. Currently there is no overhead netting, we will keep an eye out for flying predators and decide if we need that later.
I actually planned to build something eventually as I plan to have a garden once we clear a few trees, but this just accelerated the build plans.